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May 14, 2008, 12:00 am
Is FedEx Kinko's trashing its recyclables?

FedEx Kinko's is, by all accounts, ecologically responsible. The company recycles 700 tons of paper per year and recently was ranked eighth on the Environmental Protection Agency's quarterly list of Green Power Partners.

But when it comes to local Kinko's stores, one former employee says the company's recycling claims are nothing more than a whitewash.
According to former employee Joseph McDonald, the St. Michael's Drive FedEx Kinko's throws away the paper it claims to recycle, even though the store has recycling containers for customers.

"We had bags and bags waiting to be picked up [for recycling]," McDonald, 42, says in a recent interview. "But no one ever came. Now we just throw it away. We do it every night."

A current employee confirms McDonald's allegations, but did not want to be quoted for fear of jeopardizing employment.

Indeed, a 5 am dumpster check by SFR revealed that the dumpster behind the St. Mike's store contains heaps of discarded sheets, including quality-check sign-off forms, job-order forms and cost estimates-many of which bear the unmistakable FedEx Kinko's logo. SFR also found printed e-mail exchanges between customers and FedEx Kinko's employees. The printed sheets were strewn haphazardly in the dumpster, neither shredded nor in bags.

Store manager Justin Foster insists, however, that his staff recycles. "We recycle everything we bring in, basically," he says. "We recycle everything from cell phones to cell phone batteries to ink cartridges to paper…All that."

But when asked which recycling company the store uses, Foster was unable to answer and referred SFR to the company's corporate legal department; Foster says he's only been manager of the store for a week.
Spokesperson Jenny Robertson, speaking from company headquarters in Dallas, says that Waste Management has the contract for FedEx Kinko's recycling nationwide. When contacted by phone, however, a Waste Management representative said there were no records of the company recycling for FedEx Kinko's in Santa Fe.

Albuquerque's FedEx Kinko's stores don't use Waste Management, but instead rely on local recycler Cintas. This was confirmed by employees at three Duke City branches.

By contrast, SFR contacted several local recycling companies (including the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County); none appear to handle FedEx Kinko's. And, employees at the FedEx Kinko's store on Guadalupe Street, which Foster also manages, couldn't tell SFR who picks up their blue bins.

Foster was unable to give an exact figure for the store's recycling efforts, but estimated it's "at least a trash can a day."

McDonald estimates the amount he saw set out for trash was a lot higher, something on the order of eight large garbage bags full per night. He says he believes the public was misled about the store's recycling practices.

"Some people would come in and say, 'I know you guys are more expensive but I come here because you recycle,'" McDonald says.

(FedEx Kinko's copying fees are actually comparable with other area print shops). McDonald says he felt guilty about the waste while at the company, but because the job provided his income for four years, he felt there wasn't much he could do.

However, McDonald says he regularly brought up the issue with managers, and was told it was being worked on.

Whatever its current status, the company did at some point recycle. Faye Noon of Paper Recycler & More says a decade ago, her company, now in its 18th year of business, used to pick up paper from Kinko's now-closed Montezuma location. Until they canceled the contract.

"They said they were doing it themselves," she says in a recent phone interview. "I made about 20 phone calls and couldn't reach the manager."


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